UCF Football: George O'Leary Right to Refuse Release of DaMarcus Smith
Many have questioned some of George O'Leary's actions at the University of Central Florida in the past. Whether it be the resume scandal, quarterback controversy or even questionable play-calling, his career has been rife with interesting situations for a school that is just now beginning to make a name for itself.
However, O'Leary was completely in the right when four-star quarterback recruit DaMarcus Smith decided to back out of his letter of intent and O'Leary came back with a resounding "No."
The Commitment Was Already Made
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DaMarcus Smith had always been an "unofficial" recruit for his local school of Louisville but for some reason decided to sign a legally binding letter of intent when he came for a recruiting visit to UCF. What originally made him interested in the first place must have been quite convincing because his mother signed the letter as well.
"I met with him a month ago. He basically talked to me about the situation. He left me saying he was 100 percent a Knight," O'Leary said.
Once the paper is signed and verbal commitment with explanation is given, a player is expected to keep up their end of the legally binding letter of intent.
Smith Should Accept the Consequences of His Actions
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The main argument for Smith would probably be that he is a 17-year-old who didn't realize that he would be stuck with his decision. Maybe this could be argued except his mother also looked over the letter of intent and signed for him too.
Smith is probably under a lot of pressure from Louisville. That is fine but he also is under contract with UCF who spent a lot of time recruiting the quarterback.
"Now who is the victim? Because we stopped recruiting quarterbacks when he basically let us know he was involved and wanted to be here, long before National Signing Day," O'Leary said.
Due to UCF receiving the letter of intent, there was no reason to go out and pursue other QBs, especially with a high-caliber recruit like Smith. All the planning and preparation to work him into the lineup has also gone down the drain.
If Smith doesn't get his appeal then he will have to sacrifice a year of eligibility. It's sad that a player will have to sacrifice a year of college playing time but it is also sad that he could not keep up his end of the deal.
Smith Has Offered No Real Reason to Leave
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This is the only reason that Smith has officially given for his desire to be let out of his letter of intent.
Although there may be reasons unbeknownst to the public besides this, on the surface it appears that he just wants to go to Louisville.
O'Leary echoed this sentiment when asked if Smith had given a reason for wishing to be released from his letter of intent: "Not really, except that he really wants to go to Louisville. That's why there's a long recruiting period. A letter was signed by him and his mom."
O'Leary Is Setting a Precedent for the Future
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"I've never in all my coaching given a release to an LOI. I'm not about to start," O'Leary stated. "He knew that. I told him that. Again, that's why they have such a stiff penalty for people who don't fulfill the NLI."
This sends a message to future recruits that once your word has been given, you must fulfill it or face the consequences. If O'Leary made an exception in this case, whose to say that another situation wouldn't arrive in the future that would take the DaMarcus Smith case into account?
Either the letter of intent is a contract or it means nothing. If players are allowed to skip out on their obligations then the recruiting process would be pointless.
It has yet to be seen how the situation will play out. Obviously, Smith won't be a very happy camper if he chooses to go to UCF, but on the other hand is it worth missing a whole year of very valuable playing time to go to Louisville? The UCF and Louisville public will just have to wait and see.
Full O'Leary comments on the situation are available at: http://ucf.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1205766